woensdag 12 juni 2013

A Russian psalter in Leiden


Whether or not the polyglot Scaliger had some knowledge of Russian or Old Church Slavonic remains a question. He used the Slavic equivalents of the word ‘god’ in order to determine language groups,[1] but there is no proof of his capability to read these languages.[2] Nevertheless, in his inheritance we can find three Old Russian manuscripts (Scal. 24B, 38 and 74). Apparently these manuscripts were not closely examined by anyone for a long time after they had become property of Leiden University Library after the death of Scaliger in 1609. The descriptions in the catalogue from 1716 are considerably contracted in comparison with those of Arabic and Hebrew manuscripts, for instance.[3] Only in the 19th century when the Slavic philology was developing, the manuscripts were studied by specialists. However, it did not result in publications. The library form pasted into Scal. 24B shows that this manuscript was read by I.I. Sreznevskij (1812-1880), professor of St Petersburg University, in 1875. In 1888 it was studied by Alexander Brückner (1856-1939), Polish professor from Berlin, who organized in 1913 a protest against the nomination of Nicolaas van Wijk (1880-1941) as the first professor of Slavic languages in Leiden University.[4] Apparently Van Wijk himself did not examine these manuscripts. Only in the second half of the twentieth century the manuscripts Scal. 38B and Scal. 74 lead to dissertations in the Netherlands.[5]
     I am not aware of any study that has been dedicated especially to Scal. 24B. The descriptions given by Molhuysen[6] are likely to be based on the information which was provided by Sreznevskij and is written in the manuscript. For the texts of the psalms (ff. 7-143) take up the biggest part of its 166 folia, the sixteenth century manuscript could be identified as a psalter.[7] Apart from that, it comprises astrological advice on agriculture, chronological facts of Slavic history, the Cyrillic alphabet, prayers, a sheet of parchment with the signs of zodiac on it and a calendar, and a letter of the grand prince Vasily III (1479-1533) about the conclusion of a commercial treaty.
     Scaliger might have acquired this manuscript due to his interest in chronology. Also, the other two Old Russian manuscripts from his collection contain chronological information. The provenance of these manuscripts is unknown. But we know that Scal. 24B used to belong to Friedrich Lindenbrog (1573-1648), a philologist and collector from Hamburg who entered the University of Leiden as a student of law in 1594.[8] Scaliger called Lindenbrog ‘un fat et plagiaire’.[9] Probably the reason for that was that Lindenbrog published an edition of Statius’ s works that Scaliger had wished to bring on the market himself.

Jan Paul Hinrichs


[1] See J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, The Oxford introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European world (Oxford 2006), p. 4.
[3] See Catalogus librorum tam impressorum quam manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Publicae Universitatis Lugduno-Batavae (Lugduni apud Batavos 1716), p. 340-341, p. 411.
[4] See Jan Paul Hinrichs, Nicolaas van Wijk (1880-1941) : slavist, linguist, philanthropist (Amsterdam 2006), p. 101.
[5] See Van den Baar, op. cit., and W.R. Veder, The Scaliger Paterikon, 1: Palaeographic, linguistic and structural description  (Zug 1976).
[6] P.C. Molhuysen, Codices Scaligerani (praeter Orientales) (Leiden, 1910), p. 6.
[7] See Ch. Mejer, ‘Slavjanskie rukopisi Lejdenskoj universitetskoj biblioteki v Niderlandach’, Archeografičeskij ežegodnik za 1977 god (Moskva 1978), p. 261.
[8] Album studiosorum Academiae Lugduno Batavae MDLXXV-MDCCCLXXV : accedunt nomina curatorum et professorum per eadem secula (Hagae Comitum 1875), p. 39.
[9] Harm-Jan van Dam, ‘Filoloog en dichter in Leiden’, in H.J.M. Nellen and  J. Trapman (eds.), De Hollandse jaren van Hugo de Groot (1583-1621): Lezingen van het colloquium ter gelegenheid van de 350-ste sterfdag van Hugo de Groot (’s-Gravenhage, 31 augustus-1 september 1995) (Hilversum 1996), p. 80.

| Eerder verschenen in: In: Arnoud Vrolijk & Kasper van Ommen (eds.), “All my books in foreign tongues”. Scaliger’s Oriental legacy in Leiden 1609-2009. Catalogue of an exhibition on the quatercentenary of Scaliger’s death, 21 january 2009 (Leiden: Leiden University Library, 2009), pp. 87-89 (Kleine publicaties van de Leidse Universiteitsbibliotheek; 79).

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